Mercedes’ EQA crossover is a cute, compact EV – Roadshow

Discuss: Mercedes' EQA crossover is a cute, compact EV

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Mercedes-Benz EQA debuts as the automaker’s entry-level EV – Roadshow

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It's a slightly more futuristic take on the GLA format, and we like it.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz teased its entry-level EQA crossover earlier this week, but now it's officially here. Well, not here here; the company isn't saying for sure if the EQA will come to the US. Nevertheless, the EQA made its debut online on Wednesday, and we definitely like what we see.

The diminutive electro-Benz will launch in Europe as the EQA250 and offer 188 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque, though more powerful versions with as much as 268 hp are set to arrive before too long. Power comes from a 66.5-kWh battery, and Mercedes-Benz says the front-wheel-drive EQA250 can sprint to 62 mph in 8.9 seconds before topping out at 99 mph. All-wheel-drive variants will arrive in the future, as well.

Initial estimates quote a range of 301 miles for the EQA250, though that's on the New European Driving Cycle. Should the EQA be offered in the US, the EPA-estimated range will likely be lower.

The EQA's interior is similar to what you'll find in the gas-powered GLA.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes is offering the EQA with its predictive Navigation with Electric Intelligence feature that helps choose the fastest route to your destination while also factoring in possible charge times and your driving habits, as well as things like weather or traffic conditions. Other tech features like lane-keeping assist and automatic emergency braking are standard.

Other cool goodies include a built-in heat pump, which takes excess heat generated by the battery pack and uses it to condition the passenger compartment. This technology is becoming more commonTesla offers it in the Model Y crossover, for example. The benefit to having this tech is less draw on the pack for climate control, resulting in better range.

Back to the EQA's US availability, though. When asked, a Mercedes representative told us, "The EQA is still being considered for the US market at this time. Stay tuned for more details in the coming months." That's not an outright no, but it's not a yes, either. Mercedes-Benz has ambitious plans to offer more EVs both in the US and abroad. But keep in mind, we were supposed to get the electric EQC a while back, too, and it still isn't on sale in the States.

The 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQA250 is set to hit European showrooms this spring with a starting price (in Germany) of 47,540 euros (around $57,688 at the time of publication).

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Self-driving startup Aurora partners with heavy truck company Paccar – Roadshow

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Self-driving developer Aurora is working with the maker of Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks in Texas.

Aurora

Aurora -- a company probably best known for buying up Uber's ill-fated self-driving vehicle division -- is hard at work trying to bring autonomy to the world of trucking. To facilitate this, Aurora announced its partnership with Paccar (maker of Peterbilt and Kenworth trucks) on Tuesday.

Aurora is currently testing Kenworth T680 and Peterbilt 579 model trucks in Texas. These trucks have been fitted with Aurora's FirstLight lidar system and Driver software suite. Aurora plans to use its partnership with Paccar to commercialize its vehicle-agnostic self-driving tech within the next several years.

The self-driving heavy truck industry is getting increasingly competitive, with entries from companies like TuSimple, Waymo and Hyundai entering the fray. That doesn't even take into account the short-haul and drayage companies like Einride.

In many ways, it's reasonable to assume that we'll see a Level 4 self-driving heavy truck before we see a widely available passenger car with the same kind of automation -- at least in an on-ramp to off-ramp capacity -- owing to the much less complex driving task.

As to how long it could be before the industry sees regulatory approval for autonomous semi trucks, that remains a mystery.

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Toyota hit with a $180 million fine for Clean Air Act violations – Roadshow

$180 million isn't chump change, even if you're the second-largest car company in the world.

Toyota

Toyota is the recipient of a massive $180 million fine from the Environmental Protection Agency for longstanding violations of the Clean Air Act, according to a report published Friday by The New York Times. This fine -- the largest civil penalty ever issued for breaches in federal emissions-reporting requirements -- stems from a decade-long period in which Toyota opted not to report emissions defects in its vehicles, which would have brought the company out of compliance with federal standards. This is alleged to have happened repeatedly from 2005 to 2015 and with company officials' approval both in the US and Japan.

This behavior on its own paints an unflattering picture of the world's second-largest vehicle manufacturer, but Toyota's seeming lack of regard for the environment has manifested itself in other ways. For example, Toyota was one of a handful of manufacturers to side with the Trump administration in its move to roll back federal emissions standards.

While Toyota's fine pales in comparison to the billions of dollars in fines levied against Volkswagen and Daimler for deliberate emissions cheating, it doesn't necessarily bode well for the automaker, particularly with the likelihood that the incoming US administration will seek far more stringent emissions requirements and higher average fuel economy ratings for passenger vehicles.

Toyota, for its part, claims it's already addressed the issue. "Nearly five years ago, Toyota identified and self-reported a process gap that resulted in a delay in the filing of certain non-public EPA reports for emissions-related defects in vehicles," a company spokesperson told Roadshow. "Within months of discovering this issue, [Toyota] submitted all relevant delayed filings and put new robust reporting and compliance processes in place."

The automaker maintains this delay in reporting resulted in "a negligible emissions impact, if any." Toyota says it "continued to notify customers and remedy vehicles subject to any recalls, and [it] made the necessary emissions-related defect reports to our other regulators, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Air Resources Board."

Still, Toyota does not dispute the $180 million fine. "Nonetheless, we recognize that some of our reporting protocols fell short of our own high standards, and we are pleased to have resolved this matter," the company said.

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The TruckHouse BCT is an epic high-tech Toyota Tacoma overlander – Roadshow

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The TruckHouse BCT definitely looks the business and we want one.

TruckHouse

Listen, people love the idea of overlanding. I mean, even before the pandemic and being stuck at home all the time, the idea of hopping into your specially prepared expedition vehicle and disappearing into the wilderness was pretty appealing, and now, it's damn-near thirst-inducing.

That's why we're so into this TruckHouse BCT camper thing, which TruckHouse announced on Wednesday. It's based on a brand-spanking-new Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, but instead of a bed, it's got a lightweight, full-featured camper built onto the back of the frame. It's fantastic, and we want one, although there's a catch.

Unfortunately, that catch is the rather heinous price tag that TruckHouse has attached to its product: $285,000. Now, that's a reasonably staggering dollar figure, but what's even crazier is the fact that it's only the starting price. A fully optioned version could cost upwards of $350,000. If you're playing along at home, you'll no doubt realize that you could get a very nice Rolls-Royce Cullinan for that much money.

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It looks bulky, but high-tech materials help keep weight down on the camper.

TruckHouse

OK, so what do you get for your hard-earned greenbacks? In addition to the brand new Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro (which is around $45,000 on its own), you get a carbon-fiber-reinforced-composite camper shell that weighs approximately 500 pounds empty. 

You also get a beefed-up long-travel suspension, chonky off-road tires, a snorkel, re-geared differentials and an automatic awning. Things aren't exactly barren inside the shell, with a queen-size bed, a bathroom with a shower and toilet, Bosch appliances and other niceties. You're not going to be roughing it.

Is it excessive? Yes. Is it wildly, almost unconscionably expensive? Also yes. Is it insanely, mind-bendingly cool and desirable? You bet your ass it is, and now we just have to figure out how to get TruckHouse to loan us one so Emme Hall can disappear into the desert with it for a few days.

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Apple and Canoo held talks in early 2020, report says – Roadshow

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Word 'round the campfire is that Apple had its eye on Canoo last year.

Canoo

It would seem as though Hyundai wasn't Apple's first choice when it came to (rumored) partnerships for the production of its long-rumored car. According to a report published Tuesday by The Verge, it also tried to get its hooks into Canoo.

The report alleges that Apple approached Canoo in early 2020 to float the idea of acquiring the modular EV startup, but that Canoo wasn't interested in being acquired. It was open to a partnership and some investment, but Apple wasn't biting at that, causing the talks to fall apart.

Apple's main interest in Canoo is said to have been in the company's skateboard chassis architecture, which, unlike other brands' skateboards, integrates most of the vehicle's electronics in addition to the powertrain. It also reportedly had its eye on Canoo's unique steer-by-wire system, which allows it a lot of freedom in body design. 

Since then, both companies have been busy. Apple has been ramping up its Project Titan team, and the rumors have been pouring out of Cupertino about a possible 2024 debut date for the car. Canoo, in the meantime, has debuted its super-interesting and super-configurable MPDV (Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle).

Canoo aims to have that MPDV in limited production next year, with full-scale production in 2023. It's also reportedly in talks with other big-name tech companies interested in the startup's engineering and design chops, not to mention its technologies.

Neither Apple nor Canoo responded immediately to Roadshow's request for comment.

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Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao resigns in the wake of Capitol chaos – Roadshow

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Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao is out after the events in DC on Wednesday.

Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has announced her resignation from the position after the events of Wednesday, Jan. 6 in Washington DC.

Her announcement comes on the heels of the departure of several other prominent Trump staffers, including Mick Mulvaney, who until recently served as the US special envoy to Northern Ireland, and Deputy National Security Adviser Matthew Pottinger.

Chao posted a goodbye note addressed to her Department of Transportation colleagues in which she vowed to assist former presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg in his transition into the role as part of the incoming Biden administration.

During her time as the Secretary of Transportation, Chao moved to dramatically ease regulations on the development and testing of self-driving vehicles.

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Aprilia debuts its long-awaited Tuono 660 naked bike for 2021 – Roadshow

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Enough power, very light weight and top-tier safety tech make the Tuono 660 pretty appealing.

Aprilia

The Aprilia Tuono V4 is one of the most over-the-top, terrifying, wonderful and life-affirming machines I've ever had the pleasure of riding. It's massively powerful, thanks to its 1,077-cc V4 engine, it sounds like half of the world's angriest Ferrari, and it's packed to the gunwales with brilliant electronics designed to keep your tires on the pavement. It's also not a bike I'd recommend to most people as a first, second or even third motorcycle. It's just overwhelming.

Aprilia seems to understand that issue with its Tuono V4, so it's done the only sensible thing and lopped two cylinders off it, calling it the Tuono 660 and making it a much more accessible motorcycle. It teased the Tuono 660 alongside the RS 660 sportbike at EICMA in 2019, and now it's getting its official debut, according to an announcement on Wednesday.

The Tuono 660 makes a reasonable 95 horsepower (the V4, for comparison, produces over 170 hp) and has a curb weight of just 403 pounds. This means that things with the baby Tuono should be plenty rowdy but not quite so hectic as on the V4.

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Aprilia is keeping its TFT dash the same as on other models, and that's a good thing.

Aprilia

Like its bigger brother, the Tuono 660 sports a more upright riding position than the similarly powered RS 660, which means it should be more comfortable for longer rides. It comes with a KYB suspension with limited adjustment, paired with decently sized, radially mounted Brembo brakes. While miles away from the high-zoot stuff on the more expensive V4, this combination should be more than adequate for some hardcore canyon carving for most riders.

To help make the 660 more friendly for newer riders, it comes standard with Aprilia's excellent APRC rider-aid suite, which includes multilevel traction control, antiwheelie control, cruise control and user-selectable engine maps. Corner-sensitive, multistage antilock brakes are standard as well.

The 2021 Aprilia Tuono 660 will be available in the US towards the end of Q1 for a starting price of $10,499 before dealer fees. It will be interesting to see how it compares to Ducati's all-new Monster and KTM's 790 Duke.

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2021 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport starts at $22,090 – Roadshow

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The Outlander Sport is Mitsubishi's best-selling model.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Mitsubishi doesn't have a lot going for it these days. It no longer makes the one model that enthusiasts cared about, and the SUVs and ultracheap subcompacts aren't competitive with the rest of the industry on anything but price -- unless its planned refresh of the bigger Outlander changes things, of course.

Even with Mitsubishi attempting to position itself as the value-above-all brand, going cheaper while all the rest of its former competitors move upmarket, we were surprised to see the brand's announcement on Monday that the 2021 Outlander Sport would be starting at just $22,090 (including a $1,095 destination fee). 

Friends, that is cheap. Really cheap. Of course, there's a catch. That price is for the two-wheel drive S trim. Unfortunately, Mitsubishi doesn't even show that trim level on its customer-facing website. The most affordable trim it shows is the 2WD ES trim, which starts at $24,090. That's a big price difference.

Mitsubishi representatives have told us that the S trim will be added to the site eventually, and that dealers will have information on that trim level, should someone be interested. 

The 2021 Outlander Sport appears to carry on mostly unchanged from the 2020 model, which Roadshow's own Craig Cole reviewed and didn't like very much. If you're in the market for an affordable crossover and you don't care how it drives or wears but care very much about its warranty, then the Outlander Sport might be worth looking at -- but probably not.

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Chinese-built Tesla Model Y goes on sale – Roadshow

Tesla Model Y

The China-built version of Tesla's latest crossover is now on sale in the Middle Kingdom.

Tesla

Tesla's been hard at work getting its Chinese Model Y production up and running at the massive Gigafactory complex outside of Shanghai, and now, according to a report published Thursday by Reuters, that hard work has paid off.

The Big T has begun sales of the Chinese-built Model Y at a starting price of 339,900 yuan (or $52,091.95 at current exchange rates), which is actually only $2,191 more than our version of the Model Y Long Range.

Tesla's pricing strategy for Model Y in the world's largest market for cars is simple: undercut the other guys. That's why Model Y will be slightly cheaper than offerings from Nio, for example, which retails for the equivalent of $56,329.

Interestingly, while Tesla's Model 3 gets the benefit of China's electric vehicle subsidy, Model Y doesn't qualify because of its price. It's also not totally clear whether there are plans in the works to equip the Model Y with the base Model 3's cheaper lithium-iron-phosphate battery cells, which would, in theory, bring the price down.

Since Tesla doesn't have a PR department, I tweeted at Elon Musk about this, but I'm not holding my breath for a response.

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